March 14, 2024

The Changes In Our Architectural Practice

Bill Grant, one of our Architects, shares what it was like in the early days of his career. You’ll see that the methods and materials used throughout the design process look drastically different from the software driven technology of today. As you will see from Bill’s insights, it gives us an appreciation for how we do things today, while respecting the historical foundations of architectural practices.

The days were filled with designs on paper, on mylar, on media that would fit on a Borko-covered drafting table. A parallel rule or mechanical drafting arm would align the page sheets, drafting tape reused for days, pasting down the corners, and keeping all drawing lines parallel with each other. Small translucent clear or amber-colored forty-five-degree triangles, mechanical pencils with graphite-pointed by a table edge sharpener, and twelve-inch, three-sided architectural and engineering scales, always rotating in the hand, finding the correct one-quarter or one-eighth of feet and inches, focusing on inches at the end of the scale, always assuring a 4-inch or 6-inch wall.

A mistake is mechanically erased utilizing stainless shields with specific cut-outs of varying shapes, only taking the line bit needed to make clarity of the complicated line intersections and outlines of the day’s design. The fine-haired brush would sweep the erasure off the table with Pounce reapplied to assure the sweep would not diminish line darkness. The end of the day would reveal black graphite streaks on the fingers and face where the hand would naturally migrate.

Mylar and polyester lead points in retracting pencils eliminated this pounce mess but created a surface that had little tolerance for larger or multiple electric erasure marks.

Large Steelcase drawing files kept these sheets flat and in order. Months would fill the files until the full drawing set was complete and ready for running in the ammonia diazo blueprint machine.

Bill Grant, Architect